In the comments section of an Austin American Statesman story titled “Drugs, mental health and the justice system” a reader who identifies himself as a former probation officer wrote:
As a former Probation Officer I read this story with real interest. In seven (7) years on the job, I can’t recall a single instance where an offender wasn’t offered an alcohol and drug treatment screening.
In fact, most offenders were ordered to complete inpatient or outpatient treatment while on probation.
It is entirely untrue that prisons are filled with folks who were never offered drug treatment. The majority of that population are multiple offenders whom have had more than one (1) opportunity to complete a substance abuse program.
In other words they were offered the treatment that everyone agrees they should get. Then they ment on to commit more crimes and they ended up in prison. The Criminal Justice system has a larger responsibility to the law abiding citizen, than they do to the criminal.
Thankfully, if you read all the comments you can see that the jury pools in Austin are full of reasonable minded citizens who think that probation is – at worst – what folks caught possessing drugs should get, but as for the comment above, I’d ask a really simple question:
Do you think that as a probation officer – that is, someone who met only with offenders who had already been placed on probation – you might have only been exposed to those defendants who indeed did have treatment offered to (or forced upon) them?